There are some days that the words just won't come. The blank screen waits patiently. The cursor blinks lazily. And my fingers rest on the keyboard, frozen. On those days, I go on a word search.
I pull out my childhood dictionary—which came with our set of the Childcraft World Book Encyclopedia and features charmingly anachronistic illustrations—and riffle through it until a word grabs my attention.
Dividend . . . mild . . . thrash . . .
Almost any word will do, as long as I find it compelling. I type the word and its definition at the top of my screen and—poof!—I have conquered the blankness! And then I try to work the word somewhere into the piece I'm writing, like a secret clue to the mysteries of my writing brain.
If you don't own a dictionary (a problem you can remedy for under $5 at any used bookstore) or don't have one to hand, the nifty website Wordnik features a word of the day, as well as a random word link. Keep clicking until you see a word that speaks to you. And if you really fall for your word, you can "adopt" it with a donation to Wordnik.